Getting arrested in itself can be a traumatic experience especially if you had never before had a run-in with the law, but o many the concept of having a criminal record is even more terrifying. It’s no secret that if certain charges are severe enough it can affect many facets of your life from getting a job to renting an apartment. But what many people do not know is that in certain circumstances, and after a certain amount of time you may be able to have your record sealed so that any past discretions do not appear in background checks. Here is an overview of who and what circumstances could be eligible.
Unless a person is not formally charged with a crime (in which case they can petition to have their record sealed immediately) petitioning to have your record sealed takes a certain amount of time before you are considered eligible. For petty or municipal charges, it can be as short as one year and for things such as drug-related felonies, it could take as long as seven to ten years. For more severe petty offenses or lesser drug charges, it is usually about 3 years.
Juveniles, in general, have many advantages to adults when going through the legal system but the one really significant difference is the opportunity to have their records completely expunged as opposed to just sealed which truly gives the opportunity for a clean slate. Of course for more serious and violent crimes this would not be an option but in terms of things such as petty offenses such as misdemeanor shoplifting or drinking underage, it is something most juveniles can be eligible for within a couple of years at most.
Only a few types of crimes are eligible
One of the main disadvantages of record sealing is how limited the scope is on who is eligible. Unfortunately, if you have any felonies beyond non-violent drug charges then the option of sealing just isn’t there. Beyond that, all other offenses have to be considered lesser drug charges, petty crimes and municipal.
You need patience and money
When you finally are at the point where you may be eligible to have your records sealed, then comes the part where you will need to petition the courts and pay any fees associated with sealing. Typically, if you are considered within the eligibility requirements, then the courts shouldn’t have any reason to reject a petition, however, if it is rejected, then you will receive a letter stating why and what actions could be taken to resubmit. As for cost, it can range anywhere from $100 to $500 dollars.
In conclusion, while sadly the option is not there for everyone, there are definitely instances where it is worth the effort for a chance at a fresh start.